Speedworks travelled north of the border to Knockhill bidding to banish the memories of a torrid outing at Snetterton three weeks earlier, when stub axle failure undid a superb qualifying performance and left the Northwich, Cheshire-based outfit empty-handed for the first time all year.
That ill-fortune appeared to have followed the squad to Fife when engine issues during the opening free practice session necessitated a rapid replacement and meant triple Ginetta Champion and erstwhile British Karting Champion Ingram – already a Knockhill virgin in BTCC terms – headed into qualifying with virtually no track time or set-up work under his belt.
In the circumstances, to line up 13th on the 31-strong grid was a remarkable accomplishment, particularly given that the immensely popular, ITV4 live-televised BTCC is commonly regarded as the world’s premier and most fiercely-disputed tin-top series and counts amongst its high-calibre crop no fewer than seven former champions and 13 race-winners.
With some changes made to the car overnight off the back of data and feedback gleaned from qualifying, Ingram went on to scythe his way through the field to take the chequered flag seventh in race one, subsequently replicating the achievement in race two.
The 21-year-old KX Akademy graduate, British Racing Drivers’ Club (BRDC) SuperStar and MSA Academy member rounded proceedings off with ninth place in the day’s third and final encounter – marking his and Speedworks’ first top ten hat-trick of the campaign – and in two of the three races, he even threatened the podium before his tyres began to fade.
The trio of impressive results enabled Speedworks to regain ninth spot in the teams’ standings out of the 21 protagonists and seventh in the Independents’ Trophy. As he looks back over the weekend and ahead to the next meeting at Rockingham, team principal Christian Dick is quick to stress that this is only the start.
“Knockhill might have begun on the back foot and we went into qualifying with Tom effectively still getting his eye in, but the boys worked wonders to replace the engine in time and he repaid their stellar efforts in style on race day,” he reflected. “It was fantastic to see Tom up there amongst such esteemed company, and it is evident that he has now gained the respect of his experienced peers out on the track.
“We know we’ve got some improvements to make regarding tyre preservation over a race distance, but to come away with three solid top ten finishes, a really good points haul and having shown some mega pace was just the fillip we needed after the events of Snetterton – it’s been such a morale-booster for the entire team and has left everybody on a real high."
“The strategy for this year was always to aim for some consistent finishes over the first half of the season as Tom settled into the BTCC and found his feet in the championship, and then to start pushing harder on the development front over the second half, which is where we are now."
“We’ve made some major set-up changes to the car and are beginning to witness the fruits of that labour, which is very exciting as we prepare for the final three meetings. We’re learning and progressing at a vast rate of knots, we know what we are missing to unlock the last little bit of pace and a plan is in-place to tackle that. Knockhill was undoubtedly our strongest weekend of the season to-date – but we’re only going to get stronger. Rockingham really can’t come soon enough!”